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'We Are In A New Normal': Reflections On Terror Attack In Nice, France


We're going to take a step back now and talk about what last night's attack in Nice means to the people of Paris. Sylvie Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde's newspaper in Paris, and she joins us now. Welcome to the program.


SHAPIRO: I understand you were on your way home from a Bastille Day party when you heard about the attacks last night. What was your reaction?

KAUFFMANN: My reaction was probably the same as on November 13, when we had those attacks in Paris as everybody - I mean, as most French people, I expected it to happen again, unfortunately.

SHAPIRO: Expected it to happen again suggesting that you have accepted this as a new reality for France?

KAUFFMANN: I think so, yes. I think since we had this attacks on - against Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket in January last year, we've understood that we are in a kind of new normal and that we have to live with this terrorist threat. And I think, of course, we would like to be better protected, but we know that there's no 100 percent security. I think most people have accepted this.

SHAPIRO: Do you think for most people that changes the approach to daily life, to celebrations, to public gatherings or does it reaffirm the commitment to liberte, egalite, fraternite that is so essential to the French identity?

KAUFFMANN: I think we had started to live normally again. You know, France has had a very difficult last year, I would say, particularly those last few months have been really taxing, you know. France was reeling from, of course, several terrorist attacks because if you take into it - we had three.

This is the third one in France in 19 months, but we also had - there were two attacks in Brussels, which were very close and which were in March and which were carried out by the same commando as the one which carried out the November Paris attacks. So this is one thing. Then we had strikes, we had demonstrations, we had riots, we had flooding. Security forces are pretty exhausted in France. We know. And we have a state of emergency since November 13. So - and then we had the Euro soccer competition which started on June 10 and just finished a few days ago. And everybody was very worried about this - about how this Euro competition would go.

KAUFFMANN: As it turned out, everything went wonderfully well. The fan zones in Paris and in other cities were full, completely full. People were not scared at all and so people were really started to live normally again, and this happens in Nice. And, you know, it's the worst possible thing because a lot of children, you know - it was a family gatherings. It was for people who were partying for Bastille Day, and it's - there are 10 children among the victims. And there's just sheer horror.

SHAPIRO: In January of this year, you wrote in a New York Times opinion piece (reading) as we all expect another assault anytime, anywhere, wishing the best for 2016 has become an inconvenient right. In light of the attacks in Nice last night, how do you reflect on that sentiment?

KAUFFMANN: Well, I'm afraid I was right. It is true that we know things are going to be really tough. I think everybody is really aware of it, and people are really trying to put a brave face on it. People are going - still going out, they are still sitting outside in cafe terraces and trying to live normally. And people really know that giving up on this way of life would be giving in to the terrorists. So I think there's a kind of willingness to stand up to them, but, you know, you can wonder until when can you live normally in that kind of threat.

SHAPIRO: Sylvie Kauffmann is editorial director at Le Monde newspaper in Paris, and she's also an opinion writer for The New York Times. Thank you for joining us.

KAUFFMANN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.